The Negev is a semi-desert and desert region in southern Israel with five sections of climate. Although the Negev Desert has remain largely unpopulated throughout the early history of the country, Israel has become a leading pioneer in preventing fertile land from becoming part of the desert, and the Negev Foundation is working toward innovative ideas for making agriculture possible in the desert and attracting settlers in the area. Mitzpe Ramon is the southernmost of such settlements with the first residents being immigrants from North Africa and Romania. Visitors to southern Israel and to Negev in particular should not miss out on the Ein Avdat, the Grand Canyon of Israel.
Five regions make up the Negev. The northern region receives enough rain each year to stay fertile and is known as the Mediterranean Zone. Slightly less rain falls in western Negev, but it has sandy soil, and dunes can reach great heights in this area. Beer and Sheva are two cities that reside in the central regions with even less rainfall. Ramat Hanegev is a high plateau that reaches extreme temperatures during the winter and summer. Finally, the Arava Valley receives the least amount of rain, less than two inches each year, and stretches along the Jordanian border for more than 100 miles.
In order to build a road to Eilat, workers were brought from North Africa and Romania, and they became the first residents of Mitzpe Ramon. Originally, the town was built to take advantage of the traffic to and from Eilat, but several years later, Route 90 was constructed and was used much more often, causing travelers to completely sidestep the obscure little town. In the early 1990s, a visitors center and a hotel was constructed with an indoor pool to attract more visitors. A few attractions in Mitzpe Ramon include the Ramon Crater and a llama and alpaca farm. Tourism has become more and more popular in the area due to the growing popularity of adventure trekking and hiking.
One of the most interesting attractions in the Negev Desert is the Ein Avdat, which is a narrow, deep canyon that cuts through the land and is usually a dry riverbed. However, following the rainy season, the Ein Avdat comes to life with strong flowing waters. The history of this canyon dates back to ancient times; tools of inhabitants of the area have been found in ancient settlements from the Bronze Age. During the Byzantine era, Christian monks inhabited the area but abandoned it after the Muslims led a conquest there.
This is a great place for breathtaking vistas and beautiful photographs. If you are planning to visit the southern region of Israel, come prepared for tons of hot sun and sand. Mitzpe Ramon and the Ein Avdat are two great places to get a bit of sightseeing and even a little history into your vacation itinerary. Beersheba, the largest city in the Negev Desert, has plenty of accommodations available and is an excellent starting point for travelers who wish to explore the area. It's easy to reach the city by bus from Jerusalem, by train, or by rental car.